Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes the introduction of club record signing Andy Carroll to his squad for the final three months of the season could be highly significant.
The £35million signing from Newcastle is in line for his first taste of European football against Braga in Portugal on Thursday, having made his long-awaited first appearance as a substitute in Sunday's 3-1 win over Manchester United after a lengthy injury lay-off stretching back to December 28.
"He is a massive player and I suppose the fact we put him on the (Europa League squad) list at the beginning of February when we had to put names forward shows we had great faith in him being fit and great faith in Andy," said the Reds boss.
"He is a great attribute for us but he is only a great attribute when he is fit and well and it is up to us to keep him fit. The game is part and parcel of his recuperation. Everyone knows he would love to play - but then so would I."
Fellow January arrival Luis Suarez has already made a significant impact in his short time at Anfield but he is ineligible for Europe, having previously played for Ajax this season.
That absence has made Carroll's return even more significant with Liverpool into the last 16. But Dalglish insists he will base his judgment on what is best for the club and the player rather than trying to cash in a short-term gain.
"He realises the great part the medical team have played and we have to equal the quality of them and Andy's dedication by managing it properly," said the Reds boss.
"Everyone wants to play and he has been as desperate as us to get out there. But there is no point him being out that length of time and then us being irresponsible and throwing him in because it is a sentimental decision."
Carroll is likely to start on the bench for Thursday's first leg, having played only 16 minutes on Sunday.
Liverpool travelled without captain Steven Gerrard, who has been nursing a groin injury, but Dalglish said the extent of the midfielder's problem was yet to be fully assessed.
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